A keeler is a traditional wooden trough used for kneading and proofing dough; a spon, a double-backed spoon. Fermentation and aeration are two of the most vital processes in baking. Without them there is no flavour or texture, no life. They result from the complex interplay between chemistry and biology, the craftsman and time itself. From the simplest of ingredients can be born a world of creativity, and it is here, in the presence of unbridled passion, that a baker's art truly comes to life.
Our tale starts in 2008 and, like most stories, the beginning is very personal. Following the death of my fiancé after a lifetime battle against cystic fibrosis, my dear friend Miss Rose stepped in with some life-affirming distraction. What began as the occasional weekend baking get-together soon turned into something more regular, and as our kitchen shenanigans blossomed so it was that the blog, Team Pretty Bake , was born.
Months soon turned into years, and these delightful and often wayward kitchen adventures over time grew into my own private oasis. What was once a rambling collection of shared ideas slowly coalesced into more of a personal challenge as I began to indulge my passions and share the knowledge learnt and skills gained as I delved further into understanding how food is grown, prepared and enjoyed.
Over time the passion grew beyond the bounds of what space would allow and so it is now, five years on, that it is time to embark on a new challenge. Where once stood a postdoctoral molecular microbiologist now stands a new student, brimming with excitement and keen to try their hand at learning an artisan craft. It has been a difficult decision, to walk away from the fascinating world of scientific research. It will forever remain a source of deep interest and I will certainly continue to dabble in it when and where I can but I know, deep down, that baking is where my true passion lies. It is the best of both worlds, a longing, and an ambition. I cannot put into words what baking means, and so I'm going to express what comes from the heart by using my hands instead. This, is where Keeler & Spon begins...
How it works
Keeler & Spon has been created as a space in which I can embrace my obsessions and dedicate time to perfecting the craft of all things baked. With this new take comes new projects, and so under each Baking section you'll find the following:
- INDULGE is where I'll be throwing caution to the wind, ignoring all the health warnings, and simply delighting in the guilty pleasures of some intensely sweet satisfaction. Go on, just one slice...
- In DARE, I will tackle recipes designed to challenge, be it through difficult techniques, structure-building complexities or the battles of wrangling in unfamiliar ingredients. The stakes are high and it could all go disastrously wrong... So at the least it will be good for a laugh!
- With a keen interest in food writing I'll be using SCHOOL to develop my skills and study the ways in which we communicate with and about food. From science to folklore I'll be exploring everything from the chemistry behind recipe development to the stories synonymous with some of our much loved traditions, and hopefully many more things in between.
- In CLASSICS, I'll be sharing those tried-and-true recipes that every good baker can't live without. From century-old traditions to some of the most basic foundations, I'll be exploring the treats that help define our favourite festive occasions and what it is about those quintessential recipes that makes them exactly that. It's everything your grandmother would want you to know...
- EVERYDAY is a space for those quick and simple recipes that you can call on when it's 10 p.m. and you suddenly remember you promised to bring in something for that work function tomorrow... or at those times when you feel like something sweet but don't want any of the fuss. Simple and delicious. Nothing more, nothing less.